Wrapping Up a Decade: Better Off in 1999 or 2009?
This decade flew by. Ten years ago, I had recently graduated college and had been working for a non-profit arts organization. At this point in my life, I didn’t know it, but I was setting myself up for financial problems. Despite working 80 or more hours a week during the summer and fall, despite living an hour and a half away from the office, despite major personality and philosophical conflicts among the ten employees in the tiny office space, and despite a salary which didn’t cover modest living expense when added to commuting expenses, I enjoyed the work I was doing.
Looking back, it’s probably a good thing the only money I had in the stock market was a few thousand dollars remaining in what had once been a Uniform Transfer to Minors Act (UTMA) account. Although airplanes didn’t mysteriously crash, falling from the sky when the clock struck midnight ushering in the year 2000, the stock market soon plummeted. At this time I was only marginally aware of my finances, but I quickly became a fan of The Motley Fool‘s discussion boards, ING Direct, and taking control of my financial future.
The start of the decade was turbulent personally and professionally, but for me, everything that has transpired since the turn of the century has allowed me to grow in all aspects of my life. There is no question that I am in a better spot financially now than I was in December 1999, with a net worth somewhere below zero but not explicitly defined because I remained blissfully ignorant of my negative cash flow. Professionally, most of my income now comes from what I do outside my day job, and barring signs that my future plans will not be profitable, I plan on leaving that day job within the next few months.
For those who were just graduating college ten years ago or so, as I was, chances are life is better now than it was in 1999. I have to wonder if any other age groups feel the same way, however. Someone close to retirement today might have seen barely any financial growth overall over the past ten years, and some might even have a loss. The unemployment rate is still high, so there are likely many people who have been out of work for over a year or who have accepted jobs paying a fraction of the salary they once commanded.
How has this decade been for you? Are you better off at the end of 2009 than you were at the end of 1999?